Choosing the Right Safety Gloves
By: Rick Pedley, Contributor
A worker’s hands are an invaluable tool, so it’s crucial to protect them from potential hazards on the job. Safety gloves aim to do just that, but each pair is equipped with different features that protect workers’ hands from a range of worksite dangers.
Workers should consider various factors when choosing safety gloves, including temperature, puncture resistance, chemical exposure, dexterity and maintenance requirements. They can be exposed to extreme temperatures, sharp objects that can penetrate the skin, and hazardous chemicals that cause severe burns. Professionals should use safety gloves to protect their hands on the job, but they must choose the right pair for the task.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of gloves on the market, and they are all designed for a particular purpose. Workers may want to use gloves that offer the maximum amount to protect their hands from multiple hazards simultaneously, while others may want to use gloves that only protect against one danger.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing safety gloves to best fit your needs:
Different types of chemicals, including liquids, vapors, gasses and powders can cause severe damage to the skin and underlying tissue. Even a splash of fluid can lead to permanent injury or scarring. Workers should use chemical safety gloves when handling these substances.
A person’s hands aren’t meant to endure extreme temperatures. Hot surfaces and open flames can burn the skin, and the frigid cold can cause their joints and muscles to freeze up. If workers are working in extreme temperatures or coming into contact with hot or cold materials, they should wear insulated or flame-resistant gloves to stay comfortable and safe.
Cuts, Punctures and Abrasions
Sharp objects, fine points and certain chemicals can break open the glove or wear down the outer layer, reducing its protective properties. It’s also worth considering whether your hands will need protection against abrasions caused from rough surfaces or punctures caused from jagged edges or needles. If workers are exposed to these surfaces or hazards, they should wear puncture-resistant gloves that won’t rip or tear apart under stress.
All gloves must fit properly for the greatest protection and control. Workers should also consider how much dexterity they will need on the job. Thinner gloves come with more flexibility but may have less protection. Thicker gloves may offer more protection but may make it harder to do one’s job properly, which can be deemed unsafe. Also, consider gripping wet, dry and oily surfaces. It’s about finding the right balance between protection and dexterity.
Storage and Maintenance
Workers must also decide whether they will use disposable or reusable gloves. Disposable gloves are only designed to be worn once before they are discarded. They must be disposed of properly if exposed to toxic chemicals and the wearer must wash their hands after removing them. For reusable gloves, follow manufacturing guidelines for maintenance and care. These must be inspected before each use for signs of damage or degradation, and replaced when necessary.
Choosing appropriate safety gloves is more complicated than some people realize. Workers should ensure they are using the proper safety equipment based on the hazards in place. WMHS
Rick Pedley, PK Safety’s President and CEO, joined the family business in 1979. PK Safety, a supplier of occupational safety and personal protective equipment and manufacturer of its own new FR line GRIT, has been operating since 1947 and takes OSHA, ANSI, PPE and CSA work safety equipment seriously (www.pksafety.com/contact-us).
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